Equity in Policing
A Message from: The University of Notre Dame Police Department
We, as members of the Notre Dame Police Department, must stand together with our community in the wake of injustices that have been plaguing our nation and our communities. We must not allow the seeds of discord and racial intolerance to take root in our department or in our lives.
We know that at times law enforcement in the United States has played a role in dehumanization, oppression, and the infringement of the basic civil and human rights of people in our country. Instances of police brutality are tragic reminders of the systemic racism that exists in the United States. We recognize that NDPD is part of the larger criminal justice system that needs to improve in many ways.
These truths are uncomfortable, they stain our history and tarnish the reputation of good people doing good work. But, they are truths that are nonetheless acknowledged by the Notre Dame Police Department.
We, as members of the Notre Dame Police Department, must stand with our community in the wake of injustices that have been plaguing our nation and our communities. We must not allow the seeds of discord and racial intolerance to take root in our department or in our lives. We acknowledge the pain, anger, and frustration felt by so many members of our community, particularly our Black and Brown brothers and sisters. We acknowledge the fear and the mistrust. We acknowledge that we have a calling that is much higher than ourselves. We have a duty to listen and to empathize. We have a duty to act. To act with integrity, with compassion, with empathy, and with kindness. We have a duty to act when we witness oppression and injustices that are taking place, even if it means confronting our colleagues or our supervisors or leaders. We have a duty to help drive positive change in our own department and the larger criminal justice system. We must be a force for good.
We must continue to provide an environment where students, faculty and staff, and guests and visitors can come and experience all that Our Lady’s University has to offer without fear. We must hold ourselves and each other to a higher standard and we must stand up for those who are unable or feel that they cannot stand for themselves.
We must be part of continued conversation and, as the police department entrusted with protecting and serving the Notre Dame community, we must always examine ourselves and take action to be the best we can be for all of Notre Dame. It is in that spirit that we make available to our community the following sections containing information concerning the Notre Dame Police Department’s training and certain operational practices, as well as certain departmental information. The first highlights some of our department’s critically important training and policies. Although this list is not exhaustive, we will continue to engage with our community and train and adapt our policy and procedures based on feedback and best practice to continuously improve our service delivery to the University. The second section highlights information about the department and how we hold ourselves accountable and are accountable to the Notre Dame community.
Training and Policies
- Fair and Impartial Policing: Training on implicit bias for law enforcement. Separate training for officers, supervisors, and chiefs. All officers go through this training at least every 2 years with a shorter refresher training on off years. NDPD has a number of certified trainers in this program. We were instrumental in bringing it to the Michiana area and all the local law enforcement agencies have gone through the initial training. We have continued to conduct this training with our staff.
- Notre Dame's “We are ALL ND”: This diversity and inclusion training led by Human Resources is required for all NDPD staff.
- Diversity discussions: We have held small group discussions on diversity and inclusion with the University’s Staff Diversity and Inclusion Officer and other diversity practitioners, starting with NDPD leadership. All supervisors have also participated, and we are scheduling all our staff for these important small group discussions.
- Trauma-Informed Sexual Assault Investigations Training: Officers and investigators have been trained on conducting Trauma-Informed sexual assault investigations and are encouraged to apply trauma-informed principles to their daily work. We will also work with researchers to develop a Trauma-Informed Policing course.
- Crisis Intervention Training: In April of 2022 NDPD and partners on and off campus implemented a Crisis Intervention Team program for the Notre Dame community according to NAMI guidelines. NDPD also participates with the St. Joseph County and State of Indiana Crisis Intervention Teams. 40-hour CIT training is required for all NDPD officers. We also have three trained crisis negotiators.
- Whenever we respond to an individual experiencing a mental health crisis, we partner with other University offices or resources who are able to provide appropriate support and care. If the individual in crisis is a student, we partner with the student’s residence hall staff (if the student lives on campus), and with the counseling center’s staff and call center. For similar incidents involving faculty and staff, we often work with managers, department chairs, and/or human resources to identify appropriate sources of support.
- De-escalation Training: Philosophically we value, train on, and practice de-escalation. Whether it is enforcement actions like citations, arrests, no trespass orders or use of physical force we try to take the least invasive action possible to resolve the situation and ensure the community’s safety. Enforcement is a tool that we will use if we must, but we would prefer to engage in problem solving, support, and partnership if these can resolve a situation safely. Our goal is always to support our community’s safety and success. De-escalation is included in NDPD’s annual physical tactics training and Taser training. Stand-alone de-escalation training will also be required at least every 2 years.
Response to Resistance Policy
Our Response to Resistance Policy is consistent with best practice use-of-force policies. It requires officers only to use force when objectively reasonable, and to immediately cease using force once their lawful objective is attained. Our officers are not trained to use neck restraints or chokeholds, and our training on use of force or response to resistance consider holds to the neck or head to be deadly force and only to be used if necessary to save the life of an officer or 3rd party. One of the guiding principles of our policy and training is the sanctity of every human life. Our policy also requires any officer who sees excessive use of force taking place to immediately protect the citizen and report the excessive force to a supervisor who shall then inform the Chief. It also requires officers to report any use of force, which would include pointing a firearm, Taser, or pepper spray at someone even if the officer does not discharge the firearm, Taser or pepper spray. Our policy and training are consistent with PERF's 30 Guiding Principles on Use of Force. Every use of force is immediately reviewed to ensure that it was necessary and consistent with the laws of the United States and State of Indiana and our policies, mission, and values.
“Suspicious Appearance” Policy
NDPD has developed a policy that does not allow dispatchers to send officers to a call if the call is based solely on suspicions about a person's appearance. Dispatchers are trained to ask follow-up questions to determine if there is suspicious behavior before sending an officer.
Use of force and authority
Last year NDPD only used force three times. In all three instances, the force used was physical in nature (e.g. an armbar technique or double leg take-down). We had three additional "Response to Resistance" (also known as a use of force) forms completed during that same time period. These are instances when any implement of force (Taser, pepper spray, handgun, etc.) is drawn and verbal commands given. This is not something that most departments count as a use of force, but we do and evaluate each time it happens. 3 of the subjects in these incidents were graduate students and the other 3 had no affiliation with the University.
NDPD tracks the race of every individual who is stopped, warned, cited, arrested, or issued a No Trespass or Non-Contractual Interest Notice. Last year NDPD arrested only one student. NDPD leadership reviews these demographic reports every 6 months to look for any concerning trends.
We continually review our policies to ensure they are in line with progressive policing best practices including guidance provided by organizations like PERF, IACLEA (International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators), The President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
- Every complaint we receive is thoroughly investigated. Complaints can include concerns about an interaction by a member of the public, internal complaints within the department between staff members, or complaints received through the Integrity Line or Speak Up.
- Any complaint of bias or discrimination is referred to the Office of Institutional Equity for their investigation.
- Complaints and their outcomes are also reviewed by several University Vice Presidents.
- If anyone has a concern about an interaction with any of our staff, they are encouraged to report it. The following are options for reporting concerns:
- Riot Gear: NDPD does not have riot outfits or offensive riot control weaponry. We do have clear shields and helmets intended for use in rescuing injured people in an active violence situation. We have never had to deploy this equipment.
- Cameras: NDPD has in-car cameras a/k/a “dash cams” in its police cars and officers are required to activate the cameras when initiating a traffic stop or any kind of enforcement action when they deploy from their car. We also have numerous CCTV cameras which are reviewed whenever there is a complaint. All of our Tasers also have cameras built into them that automatically begin recording anytime the Taser is turned on.
NDPD meets regularly with members of the student diversity council, and various student clubs to work on relationship building. We also participate in retreats focused on identity and inclusion and are open to participating in others to help build and deepen relationships. This year we will invite student clubs and employee resource groups to engage in unity summits with NDPD staff.
We have been focused on diversity in recruitment and have expanded our possibilities for hiring. We review our candidate pools with a diversity recruiter. We also have an internship program that has been utilized extensively by interns of color, some of whom have been hired into other police departments.
We are committed to the pursuit of sharing truth for its own sake. If you have questions or want to have an open, constructive conversation, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want our culture to be inclusive, supportive, developmental, collaborative, professional, compassionate, and empathetic.
NDPD is committed to establishing and maintaining a department culture that is mission driven and values based. Our core values include the University’s values of accountability, teamwork, integrity, leadership in excellence, and leadership in mission and our department values of respect, integrity, service, and excellence. We consider our role to be that of community caretakers and problem solvers. We work to establish trust both within the department and with individuals and entities within the community. We strive to have an environment where it is safe to speak up, people are expected to and want to take ownership of their responsibilities and actions, and there is a culture of mutual accountability. We want our culture to be inclusive, supportive, developmental, collaborative, professional, compassionate, and empathetic. We regularly check in on these elements of culture for our department generally, within individual teams within the department, and when we review incidents or events. We want to be a police department that is uniquely Notre Dame and attentive and responsive to the unique needs of our community and all of its members.
The link above is a webpage that includes a description of some of the kinds of interactions you may have with police officers on campus. It is intended to help people understand what to expect from officers, how you should respond in these situations, and what your rights are.